Barcelona is well known for its iconic architecture, whether it’s Catalan modernism, modern architecture or the famous grid pattern of the Eixample District. But it is Catalan Modernism by architects such as Antoni Gaudí and Josep Puig i Cadafalch, amongst others, that the city stands out for. The amount of Modernist buildings in Barcelona is pretty extensive, and if you love this style of architecture you will feel like a kid in a playground and you’ll want to visit them all. So I have selected here the top ones to get you started in your architectural exploration of this incredible city.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top Modernist Buildings in Barcelona
- 2 Barcelona Pass Modernista
- 3 Planning your trip to Barcelona
- 4 Visiting Spain? Check out my other Spain articles
- 5 Like this post? Pin and save for later
Top Modernist Buildings in Barcelona
Casa Batlló is arguably the flagship building of Catalan Modernism in Barcelona. The original building was built in 1877 when there was still no electric light in Barcelona. In 1903, it was purchased by Josep Batlló y Casanovas, a prominent textile industrialist, who contracted Gaudí to demolish it and build a new house, who instead reformed the existing building and turned it into a work of art.
Gaudí used elements such as ceramics, stone and forged iron to create a fluid space with organic shapes. There is hardly a straight line in the whole building. The roof resembles the back of a dragon, with its arched shape and its scales for tiles. And there is a theory that the rounded tower crowned with a cross represents the lance of Saint George, patron saint of Catalonia, plunged into the back of the dragon.
This iconic building is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must see if you are interested in Gaudí’s work, Barcelona’s history and visual arts, even if you only have one day in Barcelona.
Casa Batlló can get extremely busy and the queues can double back around the block, so I would recommend visiting first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening. One way to avoid queuing twice (one queue to buy the ticket and another to enter) is to buy a fast-track ticket in advance.
Address: Passeig de Gràcia 43, Barcelona
Opening Times: 9am to 9pm (last entry 8pm)
Located right next door to Casa Batlló, Casa Amatller was built by Josep Puig i Cadafalch in a modernist-gothic style with Dutch influences, for Antoni Amatller, an important chocolate industrialist.
This row of houses of which Casa Amatller and Casa Batlló are part of, is known as the Manzana de la Discordia (or Block of Discord or Bone of Contention). It includes four of the most important Modernist buildings in Barcelona, all by four different architects, and all with completely different styles but all of them clashing and competing for the most impressive architecture of the time.
Puig i Cadafalch used elements from Romanesque and Catalan Gothic and reinterpreted them for a façade that is full of symbolism and decorative elements. The combination of colours and materials makes this building stand out even today.
It doesn’t get as busy as its more popular neighbour, but if you are pressed for time, book your priority ticket here so you can walk straight in. You can either choose a self-guided tour or a guided one, and both options include a cup of Amatller chocolate at the end.
Address: Passeig de Gràcia 41, Barcelona
Opening Times: 10am to 6pm
Casa Milà (or La Pedrera)
Also known as ‘La Pedrera’ (The Quarry), Casa Milà was commissioned by industrialist Pere Milà i Camps when Gaudí was at the height of its career and creativity. The building was initially publicly ridiculed because of its unusual designs, but it is now considered one of the most important modernist buildings in Barcelona.
Built over a period of just four years, it is Gaudí’s last private residential work. The façade, with its forged iron balconies, is an organic undulating and fluid shape that takes its fluid shapes from elements from nature. You can see throughout the whole building that Gaudí has used nature as inspiration and this is reflected on the lines, shapes and colours everywhere you look.
Casa Milà was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. During your visit you will see the Whale Attic with Gaudí’s famous catenary arches, the iconic Warrior Rooftop (which sadly I missed because of bad weather), and the Tenants’ Aparment, where you can see how an early 20th century bourgeois family lived. You will also see the Flower Courtyard and the Butterfly Courtyard, as well as the exhibition hall located within the Milà family’s apartment.
This is an extremely popular site to visit in Barcelona, so booking your ticket in advance is highly advisable.
Address: Passeig de Gràcia 92, Barcelona
Opening Times: 9am to 8.30pm (last entry 8pm)
Casa de las Punxes
Casa de las Punxes, or House of Spikes, has only been open to the public since 2016. The official name of this medieval-inspired house is Casa Terradas, named after the Terradas family, who commissioned this building to Puig i Cadafalch.
The visit to Casa de las Punxes is a bit different to most Barcelona’s modernist buildings. As well as learning about the history of the house through interactive and educational displays, you learn about the Legend of Saint Jordi (Saint George), the patron saint of Catalonia. The building is full of symbolism acknowledging the patron saint, and the museum takes you on a journey through a number of multi-sensory displays combining video and animation.
Don’t forget to visit the beautiful terrace and get up close and personal to the punxes (spikes) that give the building its nickname and enjoy the spectacular views of the city. In the summer the terrace is open to the public every Friday night with drinks and live music. An experience not to be missed!
Address: Avenida Diagonal 420, Barcelona
Opening Times: 10am to 7pm (last entry 6pm)
Casa Vicens is Gaudí’s first masterpiece. But despite this, it is the new kid on the block of all the Modernist buildings in Barcelona, as it’s only been open to the public since 2017.
Built for a stock and currency broker in 1883 as his summer residence, Casa Vicens kicked off the Modernist movement in Catalonia and in Europe, making it very significant in architectural terms. Gaudí broke away from tradition with this building by using a variety of different materials such as iron, glass, ceramic tiles and concrete, and by incorporating different architectural styles with Moorish influences, and oriental and neoclassical elements.
Casa Vicens is the most eye-catching Modernist building in Barcelona in my opinion, with its bright coloured patterned exterior. It was a private residence until 2014 and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can book your ticket to visit the whole house at your own pace or join a guided tour.
Address: Carrer de les Carolines 20-26, Barcelona
1stApril – 14thOctober – 10am to 9pm (last entry 6.40pm)
15thOctober – 31stMarch – Mon 10am – 3pm (last entry 1.40pm) / Tues-Sun 10am – 7pm (last entry 5.40pm)
Located in one of the most popular neighbourhoods in Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia is Gaudí’s most famous work and his ultimate masterpiece.It has been a work in progress since 1892, and it’s predicted to be completed in 2026, in time for the centenary of Gaudí’s death.
He took over the project from another architect who resigned one year into the construction of the cathedral, and completely transformed the plans, and incorporated Gothic with the non-linear and geometric elements characteristic of his Modernist style. The Sagrada Familia was his last project, which he left incomplete after he was run over by tram at the age of 73 in 1926.
One of the most impressive things about this building is the effect the light has in the interior of the cathedral, playing with the space and colours.
This is one of Barcelona’s most popular attractions, so I highly recommend skipping the line and booking your Fast Track ticket in advance.
Address: Carrer de Mallorca 401, Barcelona
Nov – Feb: 9am to 6pm / Mar & Oct: 9am – 7pm / Apr – Sep: 9am – 8pm
Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, also known as Sant Pau Recinto Modernista, is the largest Modernist complex in the world. It worked as a hospital until 2009, when the medical facilities were relocated and the complex was rehabilitated and prepared to receive public visits, finally opening in 2014.
Designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the leading architect of Catalan Modernism, it came to be as a result of a merger of six hospitals. The complex has a palace and 12 pavillions, which you can visit at your own pace. The intricately decorated façades and impressive main building are guaranteed to capture your imagination. Patterned tiles, bold mosaics and colourful stained glass windows are elements that you can see through out the whole complex.
This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the Palau de la Música Catalana, and a must visit in everyone’s plans of Modernist Barcelona.
Address: Sant Antoni Maria Claret 167, Barcelona
Nov – Mar: (Mon – Sat) 9am to 5.30pm / (Sun) 9.30am to 3pm
Apr – Oct: (Mon – Sat) 9.30am – 7pm / (Sun) 9.30am – 3pm
Palau de la Música Catalana
The Palau de la Música Catalana is a concert hall designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, and built between 1905 and 1908. Following the typical Catalan Modernism style, dynamic shapes are more predominant than static forms and curves are preferred to straight lines. Highly decorated, it was the wealthy citizens of Barcelona that helped finance this building that requested characteristics that symbolised the Catalan character.
The concert hall is still in use today and it sits about 2,200 people. It is the only auditorium in Europe that is illuminated during daylight hours entirely by natural light. The enormous stained glass skylight is a masterpiece and truly spectacular.
Besides attending a performance, the Palau de la Música Catalana can be visited by buying a ticket for a guided tour.
Address: Calle Palau de la Música 4-6, Barcelona
Opening Times: Easter – July: 10am to 6pm / Aug: 9am to 6pm / Rest of the year: 10am – 3.30pm
It may not look like one of his works from the outside, but Palau Güell was built by Gaudí for his friend and industrial tycoon of the 19thcentury, Eusebi Güell.
The façade doesn’t resemble anything that Gaudí has built before, which in my opinion makes it more interesting and intriguing. However, you will be able to identify his trademark designs in the interiors. You will find catenary arches throughout the building, and colourful tile mosaics in the back patio and rooftop terrace, as well as other characteristic elements.
Palau Güell is located in the Gothic Quarter, which is unusual too, as most of the Modernist buildings in Barcelona are in the chic Eixample District. Make sure you don’t miss visiting the stables in the basement, which are pretty impressive and I’d happily make them my own home!
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Palau Güell is not as popular as other Gaudí buildings, so visiting feels a bit off the beaten path, and you will likely have the building to yourself and a handful more people.
Address: Carrer Nou de la Rambla 3-5, Barcelona
Opening Times: Apr – Oct: 10am to 8pm / Nov – Mar: 10am – 5.30pm / Closed on Mondays
Ok, this one is not a building per se, but it contains a few modernist buildings and it is a Catalan Modernism masterpiece, so I’m including it here.
Parc Güell was commissioned by Gaudí’s best client and friend Eusebi Güell, and it was here that the architect perfected his personal style and his trademark technique of ‘trecandis’ (broken tile mosaics).
The Parc encloses a number of buildings, including Gaudí’s House, that are clearly identifiable as his work. The most famous areas of the Parc are the colonnaded hall and the terrace with serpentine shapes, from which you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of Barcelona. In front of the colonnade is where you will also find the iconic dragon covered in mosaics.
If you are looking to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit Parc Güell is first thing in the morning. Saying this, the terrace is perfect for sunset time, but bear in mind that it will be extremely busy.
In recent years, the number of visitors to Parc Güell has been controlled by a ticketing system to what is now known as the Regulated Zone, so make sure you skip the queue by booking your ticket online.
Opening Times: 8am to 9.30pm (last entry 8.30pm)
Barcelona Pass Modernista
If you are going to be visiting a handful of Modernist buildings in Barcelona, you may want to consider getting a Barcelona Pass Modernista for €90 (~$100USD). It includes free admission to a number of Modernist buildings such as Casa Amatller, Casa de les Punxes, Casa Vicens, Sant Pau Recinte Modernista, Palau de la Música Catalana and others.
Planning your trip to Barcelona
Do you have other suggestions for Modernist buildings in Barcelona?
Let me know in the comments!
Visiting Spain? Check out my other Spain articles
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- Valencian Treats and Tastes: A Food Tour with Valencia Urban Adventures
- Learning the Secrets of Real Paella in Valencia
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Disclosure: A big thank you to Visit Barcelona, who provided me with a Press Pass. As always, all views are my own.
Teresa is an award-winning travel blogger based in London. She’s on a mission to explore the world through responsible cultural and adventure travel, and through deeper, more meaningful local experiences. She’s a lover of adventure, the outdoors and everything food related, and she’s always looking for ways to make a positive impact through sustainable travel.